MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.
The Rangers remain in an uncomfortable position, buried in the AL West and attempting to transition to a new contending core without undergoing a drastic rebuild. It’s an interesting contrast to the division-rival Mariners.
- Elvis Andrus, SS: $58MM through 2022 (10-team no-trade; opt-out after 2019)
- Rougned Odor, 2B: $43.5MM through 2022 (includes 2023 option buyout)
- Shin-Soo Choo, OF: $42MM through 2020 (10-team no-trade)
- Mike Minor, SP: $19MM through 2020
- Drew Smyly, SP: $7MM through 2019
- Jesse Chavez, RP: $8MM through 2020
- Jeff Mathis, C: $6.25MM through 2020
- Chris Martin, RP: $2.25MM through 2019
- Edinson Volquez, SP: $2MM through 2019
Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; salary projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- Nomar Mazara (3.000) – $3.7MM
- Jurickson Profar (4.165) – $3.4MM
- Delino DeShields Jr. (3.116) – $1.9MM
- Alex Claudio (3.114) – $1.3MM
- Tony Barnette, Adrian Beltre (retired), Matt Bush, Bartolo Colon, Robinson Chirinos (declined option), Zac Curtis, Doug Fister (declined option), Yovani Gallardo, Matt Moore (declined option), Martin Perez (declined option), Ricardo Rodriguez, Adrian Sampson
[Rangers depth chart | Rangers current payroll outlook]
We’re a bit late to the party here, as the Rangers have already begun their winter roster tinkering. It’s hard to label it as much more than that, however, as the organization has mostly worked on some smaller-scale moves. We’ll use this opportunity to assess the state of the organization and try to suss out the possibility of more notable transactions in the near future.
The Rangers have largely eschewed dramatic moves of late, with the organization adopting a cautious approach as two consecutive division titles (2015 and 2016) gave way to a pair of losing seasons. The team appears to be attempting to time a return to competitiveness with the anticipated opening of a new ballpark in 2020. While a salary draw-down is underway, though, a total roster teardown has not been attempted.
This offseason has again placed recently extended president of baseball Jon Daniels in a somewhat awkward position, as he has worked to fill out the roster without any real hope or intention of putting a contending product on the field. The focus, unsurprisingly, has been on compiling a palatable unit of pitchers.
In addition to the commitments made last winter to Mike Minor, Edinson Volquez, and Chris Martin, the Rangers have now added Jesse Chavez and Drew Smyly — the latter in a unique arrangement with the Cubs that also resolved the teams’ open business regarding Cole Hamels. Additionally, veteran receiver Jeff Mathis was brought on board to help guide the pitching staff. These are perhaps best characterized as gap-filling measures. Only Minor, Chavez, and Mathis will be on hand into the 2020 campaign, after all. And though all of those players could certainly be of use to a winning club, they’re hardly the types of asset that will drive the bus.
It’s incumbent upon Daniels, if the organization wants its first season in its new facility to bring some excitement for its fans, to find a way to move toward the compilation of a new core of high-level players. There is some talent to work with, though there’s also ample uncertainty. Not a single Rangers player cracked 3 fWAR last year.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus is back after deciding not to opt out on the heels of an injury-plagued 2018 effort. He’s still young enough to be a part of the future, but a big rebound campaign could also prompt him to opt out of the remainder of his contract. Likewise, Jurickson Profar is still only 25 years of age and showed signs of life last year, but he only comes with one more season of arbitration control after the upcoming campaign. The former could emerge as a mid-2019 trade candidate if he’s playing well enough to draw interest. The latter could as well, though perhaps it’s not too late to imagine him changing hands this winter (a seemingly annual possibility).
There’s at least as much uncertainty surrounding the aging Shin-Soo Choo, who is coming off of a nice season with the bat but remains quite pricey and is increasingly limited to DH duties. Shedding some of the $42MM he’s still owed would figure to be of interest, though we’ve certainly seen no indication that the Rangers will prioritize that to the point that they’d package Choo with higher-value assets, as the Mariners have. Still, shopping him could yield some interesting possibilities this winter. After all, there are a good number of other contract swap candidates out there. It’s possible the Rangers could work something out to acquire a younger, higher-upside player or to rid themselves of some of Choo’s cost.
Taking advantage of the fact that Choo is a useful, albeit overpriced player could do more than open the door to adding a somewhat more interesting piece for a club in the Rangers’ position. Any newfound payroll space could then be applied to free agent or trade/claim candidates who could potentially turn into trade chips or even future assets for the Texas ballclub. And the organization would free a roster spot and playing time, possibly affording additional opportunities to find value.
The Rangers have continued to spend even in this down period, so perhaps hanging onto Choo won’t hamstring the organization from doing what it otherwise wishes. Still, with a budget that’s expected to land at $120MM or so, there likely isn’t much more space to work with once arb money and league-minimum salaries are added to the contractual commitments. Even a few extra million might open the door to some intriguing opportunities that may not even yet be evident. (To take but one example of the potential upside, the Reds’ late-March claim of Scooter Gennett in 2017 has paid enormous dividends for the club.) Perhaps it’s possible the Rangers could acquire some young talent by taking on an undesirable contract from another club.
Regardless of the path, it seems the organization should be looking for ways to put its hefty payroll (for a rebuilding team) to use, not just in keeping the club afloat at the MLB level but in trying to unearth future value. Because, frankly, there’s a desperate need for it. Daniels stated the obvious recently: “This is not the year where we are going to go all out. We are probably a year away from starting to look at some different options for expanding the payroll.” That’s plenty sensible, but it’s also a clear acknowledgement of the fact that this is firmly a rebuilding club … albeit one that has decided still to outspend quite a few other organizations. The estimated $120MM payroll is being flushed so far as 2019 competitiveness goes, so perhaps more of it ought to be diverted to future-oriented undertakings.
After all, it’s hard to say that any particular player currently on the roster is highly likely to be a part of the next competitive Rangers ballclub. Second baseman Rougned Odor is locked in on a long-term contract, made some improvements over the course of the 2019 season, and is just 24 years of age. But he’s far from a sure thing given his inconsistencies and remaining rough spots. Joey Gallo just reached his 25th birthday and has posted consecutive 40-homer seasons. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until next fall. But he’s also a three-true-outcomes extremist. Gallo’s surprising defensive versatility is a boon, and he’s certainly a valuable asset, but he surely hasn’t yet proven he’s a reliable star-level player and could get expensive rather quickly as a power-heavy arbitration player. Meanwhile, Nomar Mazara is younger than both of those just-mentioned teammates and has hit precisely twenty home runs in each of his first three years in the majors. But he has yet to take the next step in his development, having fallen shy of the league-average bar on offense in each of those seasons.
At times, that trio has seemed a budding core unit, but it hasn’t happened yet. The other pieces on hand come with even greater questions. On the position-player side, Ronald Guzman and Willie Calhoun have shown their share of promise at times with the bat, but are far from established big league hitters. Drew Robinson has torn up the minors in recent years and should have an opportunity to show he can do it in the big leagues, though his 125 MLB plate appearances last year were a dud. Isiah Kiner-Falefa offers versatility and Delino DeShields Jr. can contribute speed and defense, but neither has sustained productivity in the majors at the plate.
Even including the veteran hurlers mentioned above, all of whom come with significant health risks, the pitching staff remains a unit with about as many holes as any around the game. The rotation still likely needs some added depth options, at a minimum. Southpaw Yohander Mendez will likely get a crack at earning a rotation job, though he has struggled in the majors and wasn’t successful last year at Triple-A, either. Righty Ariel Jurado has not missed many bats in the upper minors or in his initial showing in the bigs, but could get another look if he impresses in camp. Deadline acquisition Taylor Hearn could break into the majors in 2019, but likely still has some refinement left before he gets the call.
On the relief side, there are at least a few players to watch. Connor Sadzeck was effective at Triple-A in 2018 and got results in a brief MLB debut, but did so while issuing 11 free passes in 9 1/3 innings. Nick Gardewine has put up interesting numbers at times while climbing the ladder and reached the bigs last year, but missed much of the year with forearm troubles. Alex Claudio has been effective in the past and could be again. Fellow southpaw Jeffrey Springs racked up 15.6 K/9 last year in the upper minors in a multi-inning role and was effective in his first 32 MLB frames. The as-yet-unestablished C.D. Pelham is another lefty option in the pen. Still, this is another area where depth and/or upside plays would be most welcome.
Of course, I’ve left one name out of the discussion to date, and it’s a notable one. Young righty Jose Leclerc showed quite a bit of promise last year while sliding into the closer’s role. The 24-year-old made strides with his control while recording more than 13 strikeouts per nine and working to a 1.56 ERA in 57 2/3 innings. That output was driven in no small part by the fact that he held opposing hitters to only a single long ball. Any reversal in his walk rates (he went from 7.9 per nine in 2017 to a much more palatable 3.9 last year), combined with a dinger increase, could change his outlook. But it’s hard not to admire his mid-to-upper nineties heat and whopping 17.1% swinging-strike rate. There are quite a few quality relievers available in free agency, to be sure, but contending clubs that don’t like the price tags and obvious risks that come with the open-market options could eye him as a trade target. If the Rangers market Leclerc, who’s controlled through 2022, there could be an opportunity to add some players who hold out the promise of turning into core pieces.
There’ll surely be more roster plugging efforts to come over the course of the offseason. But the primary focus of Daniels and his staff probably ought to be on exploring creative ways to infuse talent to the upper portions of a farm that features many high-risk and/or far-off assets among its best-regarded players. If there’s enough funding left to work with, perhaps some targeted free agent moves could still make sense, with Japanese hurler Yusei Kikuchi representing a particularly interesting target given his young age. Taking a crack at some bounceback pitching — relievers Cody Allen or Justin Wilson, say, or starters such as Lance Lynn, Drew Pomeranz, or even Ervin Santana — would make sense and fit the mold of recent Rangers moves. Ultimately, new skipper Chris Woodward will do what he can to set the tone and drive some improvement in the team’s young MLB players, but the near and long-term outlook remains foggy at best.
Why I’m earth do they need a new ballpark. I’ve been to the one they have it’s fantastic. Tax payers paying for it?
Fire Jon Daniels
Because its 120° on the field 3 months a year.
They used the ballpark to their advantage during the Ron Washington years. Their players took IVs during the games and had specialized hydration plans that allowed them to stay fresh while the visiting teams dried up and died. Speaking of Ron Washington, how about we bring that dude back at the helm. All he does is win.
Well there’s that one other thing he has been known to like to do sometimes..
I bet beer sales are good!
Well when it’s 110 out your beer is hot not long after you get it. That’s what sucks!
Go read about it. Arlington basically gave the team a sweetheart deal to keep them from moving to Dallas.
Its called suckering the taxpayer by promising jobs and growth that’s why!
Fire Jon Daniels
Yikes! Only sensible thing to do would be to Fire Jon Daniels.
Yes! They could replace him with…you?
Profar is under team control through 2020.
Profar entered 2017 with 3 years, 124 days, and needed 48 service days to reach 172 service days, which would give him 4 years.
But Rangers had him spend most of year in AAA, leaving him with just under four years, giving them an additional year of team-control
Remember when Profar was an untouchable sure fire future all star? He is my ultimate example for why it makes great sense to deal prospects in order to go for the gusto when the championship window is open. Now that the Yankees and BoSox are on top again it’s hard to imagine teams like the Rangers competing. If you’re leading the division in July and have a prayer at dealing with a super peer lineup, then freakin stinking deal your Profars and Moncadas for a Sale or MadBum!
Fire Jon Daniels
I obviously don’t like JD but you can’t criticize him for hoarding prospects and not trading for established stars when his team is good.
The difference is that Profar was universally seen as a super prospect. Exactly how Kris Bryant or Torres were seen the last few years. Remember he lost 2 full years of MLB development to major arm injuries. Who knows where he would be today if he had stayed healthy. Exactly what happened to Greg Bird as well.
I do agree with you about trading prospects though. Just not in trading prospects the caliber of Profar. Unless, like you stated it’s for a Chris Sale. To be fair to Texas, they did give up prospects for the “Sale or Madbum” pitcher that was available at the time with the Hamels trade. With him they were able to take on a ton of money and give up lesser prospects though.
94' World Champs!
Considering Profar is going to be 26 I’d consider his upside as still pretty high. He did manage a .793 OPS. I’d love to see the rangers commit to a singular position for him and allow him to develop.
Yes, II agree. It’s very important to value prospects correctly, and to deal a few of them for established talent at the right time. The Padres, for all their flaws, attempted this with Wil Myers and with the Hosmer signing – surround a nucleus of prospects with some established major-league vets; it hasn’t worked out, mostly because Myers isn’t that great and Hosnmer was terrible last year, although everyone raves about his intangibles and his clubhouse/ mentor stuff. But the team had the right idea. With Profar it’s trickier, because there’s obviously talent there, but losing two years at a crucial development time really hurt him. I don’t see the Rangers in a position now where one or two players will put them over the top, although the AL West is a little wide-open this year, so they may as well stick with Profar and see what happens.
Him being 2 years from free agency really hurts his trade value
So anyways Smash Ultimate dropped today….
Rangers aren’t trading Elvis. He is now the face of the franchise, a clubhouse leader and the rangers do right by “their” guys. He’ll be the old vet on our next contending club in 3 years or so
Dont tell Pudge Rodriguez that
That was 16 off seasons ago. Look at how they handled Beltre.
Rangers are a broken franchise. Pretty pathetic team with no future. Texas should not be proud.
This Rangers squad mashes with the best of em. They could easily compete for that second wild card this year. Outside the big three Astros, BoSox, and Yankees, the AL is filled with teams that either never spend like the As and Rays or teams racing to the cellar. Anyone outside the top three could make the playoffs if a few of their pitchers have surprise years and their bullpen gets hot. No one would be surprised if they get the second wild card if Gallo hits 50+ bombs, Odor and Elvis bounce back in big ways, and Choo Choo keeps chugging.
There is almost zero way the rangers get the second wild card.. gallo can hit 70hr and still not be close.. there isn’t any pitching in that small park… and a very lacking offence. I think the article was in point. A well below .500 record and shooting for 2020/2021
You do realize the As got the second wild card in 18’ with Cahill as their ace. And in 17’ the Twins got the second wild card with a past prime Santana serving as the ace. This Rangers team has just as good a shot as any other team not purposely losing. They can bash and no one can predict which bullpen will get hot, so it’s hard to definitively count these guys out.
What the rangers doesn’t have that those other teams had was defense. Rangers have a bunch of DH type hitters up and down their lineup. They also don’t just need starters but a good bullpen too. Playoff teams need balance bot just hit their way to a championship.
I have chief as an emergency contact, and he confirmed this is definitely not it.
Wow. Because every team stays the same as they are right now. Moron.
A lot did by staying away – attendance was abominable.
That must have been difficult for Jeff Todd to write up.
This is what happens when a front office gives out too many long-term contracts for too much money, has a poor farm system, and cannot develop players. If they tried to go into a pure tanking mode there are only a handful of players other teams would take, and of those only a few would bring a half-decent prospect back due to their out of kilter existing contracts.
I tried watching some Ranger games in 2018. Everyone seemed tired and beaten down – from the players to the manager/coaches to the announcers. All going through the motions, mouthing worn out cliches which their body language and effort contradicted. Their players seem to have limited skill sets. Had hopes for Nomar Mazara, but like most of his teammates he’s hit a wall. It seems that the younger guys are marking time till they can follow Scooter Gennett out of there.
Was stunned that ownership extended Jon Daniels. That Baseball Ops division needs a total makeover.
You do realize Scooter Gennett plays for the Reds, don’t you? The rest of your post is over the top nonsense.
Also states Odor made adjustments to improve in 2019.
“thegreatcerealfamine 4 hours ago
You do realize Scooter Gennett plays for the Reds, don’t you? The rest of your post is over the top nonsense.”
– – –
I’m sorry, but do you have even a 6th grade reading comprehension ability?
Let’s review. From what I wrote……
“It seems that the younger guys are marking time till they can follow Scooter Gennett out of there.”
– – –
Yes, I know Scooter Gennett plays for the Reds, I also know that he’s done quite well with with them.
I will add that when Hamels was traded to the Cubs, he was suddenly able to pitch again……in a bandbox ballpark.
My post was not “over the top nonsense”, it was right on the money. There is something terribly, terribly wrong with the Rangers organization. I look for the new manager to give them a dead cat bounce (look that one up), and then the team will adjust back to the organization mean.
Put another way – how does a team LOSE 95 GAMES when they’re not trading off all their veterans and playing rookies; and/or suffering massive injuries and playing rookies?
What are you talking about? Love how you double down and insult the person who called you out and pretend that you didn’t make a mistake. Scooter Gennett was never a part of the Texas organization. Why did you bring him up in your original post? I think you owe cereal an apology, Samuel. Love how you try to throw stock market terms in to sound intelligent. What is the Rangers organizational mean? They made the playoffs 5 times in the last 9 years and went to the World Series twice. They won 95 games 2 years ago
To start johnrealtime, I don’t care for the attitude that has taken hold in America – particularly in social media – that a person can take one line out of 3-5 paragraphs, and use that to discredit everything written or said; and once gotcha has been established it’s personal attacks and pile-on time.
This was an article on the outlook for the 2019 Rangers.
It’s nice that their organization went to the WS years ago. Unfortunately, the players are gone as well as the manager and most of the front office people.
The team was not in a rebuilding mode in 2018. Yet they lost 97 games playing primarily against AL opponents – many of whom were in a rebuilding mode trying out youngsters, and were so awful that 3 AL teams had 100 wins and a patched up Oakland team had 97.
I do not “try to sound intelligent”. I’m older, worked and managed in a professional field. This is the way I, my colleagues, friends and family communicate. Full disclosure – I still read books to learn and keep up with changes. Even stoop so low as to audit classes at my local college. Also bicycle 8-20 miles at a time; swim 45-90 minutes; lift weights, and do hour long stretching routines as I work out 4-5 times a week. Decided in my early 20’s that life was about always growing, learning, and getting better at things.
By your criteria Mr. johnrealtime, I believe you owe me an apology.
Admit you made an error and stop being a tool.
John guys like Sammy are just overcompensating for something. Thanks though, I gotta go starting my 30 mile swim.
Gennett was in Milwaukee, not Texas….
The ownership is made up of ex oil guys who don’t know diddly about baseball.. They do know the bottom line, and that’s why Daniels is their guy – “cut rate Daniels.”
Yes, and Texas has been slow to build out its analytics department, which is what all the best teams have been doing for years now (A’s, Red Sox, Dodgers, Tampa Bay, Yankees, Cubs, Brewers, Astros of course) All these teams have put an analytics department together over many years, and a lot of these teams like Texas, Anaheim, Giants ignored doing that; The Padres just started building an analytics department to go along with Preller’s scouting acumen,
Toronto just hired Fangraphs’s editor to work in scouting, (Houston has no less than five former BP/Fangraphs analysts in its Analytics department), Bill James has worked for the Red SOx for over a decade now…there’s a reason teams are hiring these guys left and right, and integrating them into more traditional scouting and coaching programs, and it’s because the results are undeniable. It will take a while for teams that are so behind on the curve to get there, especially if owners are lathe to buy into contemporary baseball analysis or, more importantly, able to hire coaching staff that buys into it. The Giants are obviously making steps forward, and some of the other teams that have been on the wrong side of the curve – the White Sox and Cards and Twins and Phils – are growing by leaps and bounds in that area, but there’s catching up to do.
And the Rangers made these changes this year hence Banister being out. Irony is that I think some of the old school mentality worked while everybody else was ramping up as it left a gap that the Rangers exploited with old school scouting. now that all analytics are so much better they got left behind a little. Made some good off season hires to shore this up ASAP though.
I’m not sure why Jon Daniels still has this job. His plan is terrible. They have a weak roster, and he imagines its going to miraculously add on great players. They remind me of the Phillies.
I would say trade everyone, but there’s no one really to trade.
94' World Champs!
Most of the roster is young, cheap and unproven. Any trade would be selling low. They’re better off waiting to see if any of these players will take the next step forward. Chris Davis could have brought back more than Koji Uehara if they had waited.
People said the same thing about your wonder boy Luhnow when your team was tanking every season.
The Rangers seem to be doing the doggy paddle. I don’t see a way forward for them.
Not at least for the next three to five years, so get used to mediocre baseball.
What a downer. Texas fans probably want more than waiting until 2020. The team had a solid decade though, albeit no rings.
2020 is way too soon for this club to be competitive. There aren’t any prospects that are major league ready yet! A few players of potential are still doing time in AA ball.
Totally agree on 2020 being to soon. 2022 is the more realistic date, with signs of life in 2021. Tons of talent in the lower levels of the minors.
From what I’ve read in the posts, the consensus is the Rangers are pretty much SOL on getting a wild card. To be expected. After all they are the Washington Senators v 2.0. So, good time to do the right thing.
Give Big Sexy a contract for one more summer. It doesn’t even have to be much. I bet he’d sign for $3M. He’s got his 2500 Ks. Three more wins for 250 wins. Both nice looking numbers. I know he’s going for most wins as Latin American pitcher or something like that. For all the years he’s played, he’s earned the right. His birthday is in May, his 46th. If he got his wins record, I bet he’d announce his retirement by All Star break.
It’s not that often you get a real dinosaur of a player. So he’s old and fat….maybe he’ll get another home run and we can watch him lumber around again. Rangers aren’t going anywhere.
One more summer for Bart!
I wonder what prospects LeClerc, Mazara and Kiner-Felefa could bring in return from Atlanta. Those three could help solid the Braves bullpen, right field and bench without costing a lot of money (which Atlanta could use more on a starting pitcher).
Selling Mazara now would be dumb. He could blow up anytime and was close to figuring it out last year before he got hurt. He was off to a great start until June.
The comments above are mostly dumb. The way forward for the Rangers is waiting for some contracts to expire…and maybe taking a page from the Astros and Cubs and putting a mediocre to awful team on the field for a few years to get some draft talent to develop.
Daniels and the front office aren’t willing to be that patient. 5 years losing and sitting at the bottom just isn’t in the cards for this organization. DFW market is use to winning, I suppose it has something to do with the once winning dynasty of the old Cowboys.
Did you just say that we here in the DFW are used to winning and also mention the Cowboys?!?!?! Cowboys are way more disappointing than the Rangers over the last 20 years!
I still think Mazara will break out and could blow up soon. He’s still so young and was rushed to the Majors. But the guys has massive talent. Dealing him now would be and a huge sell low move. Other than him this franchise is pretty blah..
I agree…although it seems he lacks that extra gear to truly take it to the next level. I think thats why he has some trouble in the field.
Well he’s never going to be a good fielder. His bat still could be special though. His wrist issues really hurt him last year, because he was off to a monster start.